Saturday, May 31, 2014


Sometimes I get carried away & say things I regret. Sometimes, I don't listen to my filter, & something slips out; maybe I crossed the line? Then there are those times when the human side of me rears it's human head & I knowingly say something I should not have said. Always followed by remorse & regret…

Lately, I have been told & witnessed (on one occasion), people saying ugly, hurtful things to other human beings. My mouth dropped open (figuratively), & my heart hurt for the recipients of those mean words. As I stood there stunned, I wondered if the authors of those words realized how bad they made themselves look. Ouch!

The sad part is… words come from the heart. "What comes out of the mouth is what is overflows in the heart. " So… when people are mean spirited, I believe they have a heart issue. I know that sometimes the truth hurts, & our words are painful, but not to hurt, only out of love to help another person grow or to mend a relationship. Or… maybe in the name of honesty. How you say something is as important what you say.

The problem is, once these words are uttered, they cannot be taken back. Apologies can be said & meant, but sadly, the words still remain in the head & heart of the recipient. We can forgive, but we cannot forget (try as we might). So… the damage is done. The words stick, the hurt embeds itself, & all the comfort in the world cannot erase those words.

If we look to others to find our wholeness, we will always be let down. Only in Christ can we find unconditional love, regardless of what we've said or done. I cannot fathom the hurt that some of my dear friends have embedded deep within their hearts. It breaks my heart, & I wish I could erase those words. The damage is done. Only through Christ will wholeness come. I grieve for you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

all wrapped in a day...

Yesterday was a day filled with so many unexpected emotions… I began my day with my Small Group (always my favorite day of the week). My dear friends kept me diverted from what lay ahead of me in just a few hours, my yearly appointment with my radiologist. I've come so far as I face each appointment I must endure. I know it's not normal, but I used to worry excessively over routine appointments for months in advance. How foolish! What a waste of joy & energy. I think it's called anxiety.

So… yesterday was my typical lovely Thursday morning. As the last person left my house, I knew it was time to head to my appointment. I picked up, & before I knew it, I was on my way. I parked in my same old parking spot where I always parked 2 years ago for treatment. I signed in & was greeted by 3 receptionists who remembered me & seemed so happy to see me. Wow! They have so many patients, how can they remember me?

I followed the nurse back when she called my name. She was new, & she was so kind. Immediately, I knew I was in good hands. It took awhile for the dr to get to me. After all, he's very busy, brilliant, & consistently kind. So as I sat on the exam table, I began to pray through the alphabet as I used to do when I had radiation. After the 3rd time, I just put my head on the pillow & relaxed.

Finally he came in (apologizing for my wait time). I asked him how he was, & he replied, "Well how I am depends on how you are." Pretty sweet, huh? As he carefully & thoroughly examined me, I felt 2 emotions. #1=relief. #2= unexpected fear. How did that fear creep in when I was doing so well? It took me aback & left me processing throughout the afternoon.

I texted my family with the good news. Still I felt shaken. Why? I still don't know. I think it's just all of the emotion that goes with this walk. I think it's a big reminder of the severity of my diagnosis. I try not to dwell there, but sometimes it slaps me in the face like cold water.

The day passed, & I still had these 2 emotion, gratefulness mixed with fear. As I approached Good Neighbor's Day with my youngest daughter, I ran into friend after friend. Hugs & smiles, laughter abounded! Then my middle daughter & husband arrived with my grand daughter. We sat under the tent sharing funnel cakes & Lily. It was  surreal.  These are moments I imagine, but this one crept up on me. This joy replaced my fear. This joy brought healing.  I picked up a hot fudge sundae on the way home & walked in the door feeling refreshed!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

to Gloria & LaVerne...

Today, I had some thoughts I'd like to share. They are not based on scripture; however, they are somewhat inspired by scripture, but I cannot say they are Biblical. They are just my thoughts. Perhaps they are true. One day, I believe I will know. Until then, I shall ponder…

I love thinking about Heaven. I know I've written about Heaven before, but today my mind stumbled on to an aspect of Heaven I never really considered in the past: relationship or friendship. Now, I know I've talked about my mom meeting up with my dad in Heaven. I've thought a lot about that & how wonderful that reunion would be.

But today… I was thinking more about my mom & her girlfriends. As a person ages, I believe one of the saddest things is watching their friends leave this earth. My mom loved her friends. She loved her cousin. I was thinking how on this earth our friends save our lives. They rescue us from sorrow. They hold our hands through tragedy.

They make us laugh. They cry with us. They rescue us from our ruins. They take us in. They attend doctor appointments with us. They call to check on us. I just cannot imagine my life without my friends. Whether it's a road trip, a lunch break, a phone call, or a fb connection... It could be a mission trip, a small group, a walk, a glass of tea, or a birthday card.

Whatever it is, as much joy as my friends bring me on this earth, I am wondering what it will be like to be with them in Heaven. Will our eyes connect? Will we laugh like we do on earth? Will our reunion in Heaven be so much more than it is on earth? If this is so…I'm overwhelmed. I believe it is. I believe our friends will continue to be a part of our Heavenly life (only it will be beyond anything we know on this earth).

So then my mind went back to thinking about my mom in Heaven with her dear friend, LaVerne & her cousin, Gloria. Of course my Dad, her brother, & her parents too. Suddenly, I was overjoyed thinking about the precious moments they must be sharing. Yes…I've always pictured them together in Heaven, but never with the magnitude of the perfection that comes with Heaven. I don't believe our earthly eyes can even fathom the beauty that awaits us.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Dear Team Sweet Potatas,

Together we raised $11217.74! Yes… that's 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents! I am beside myself! That's 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents that will go to research to eradicate breast cancer! My goal was $5000. God is full of good surprises, & so are you! Research has already saved my life & given so much life to many of my beloved friends.

None of us have a crystal ball. We don't know who will be next or if our own breast cancer will metastasize. We do know that research saves lives. If we are Survivors, we do know our lives have been saved. Some of us have been given more time,  time to raise our precious children, time to see our grandchildren, time to heal & even become pregnant. Time on earth is precious!

I believe we need to make the moments of our life count (that is for eternal value). It's the "little things" that give life meaning. It's just being present. It's spending time with loved ones. It's striving to heal the burdens of suffering souls. Maybe it's just brightening someone's day, planting flowers, taking a deep breath on a warm summer day. It might be an ice-cream with a friend. Whatever it is… research gives us time. Time gives precious moments. We Survivors thank all who have contributed to our cause, who have given us time.

For years I participated in The Race for The Cure with my young daughters (always with a lump in my throat). Little did I know I would one day walk for myself & so many dear sisters (that is Survivor Sisters). Little did I know my small contributions would help save my own life, would give me precious moments. Little did I know how important Susan G. Komen would one day be to me.

The day of diagnosis is the day you go into s surreal state of mind; post traumatic shock is on it's way. You are bombarded with so much, you cannot breathe. It's all a foreign language. You will never be the same. You are vulnerable. You feel isolated. Even though you are surrounded by people who love you, you are alone. Fear sets into your heart & your eyes. Courage becomes your motto. Hope becomes your stronghold. Faith becomes exceedingly more important than it was yesterday. "Second guessing" becomes your pass time. "What did I do to bring this on myself?"

It's a delicate set of circumstances. You will never be the same, but you will be better. You immediately become a Survivor. You have a sister ship with others. A kindred spirit is already in place. This bond is strong (but not stronger than your faith). People are there to help you, to love you, to take your hand & walk each tender step with you. People who care. They may not understand your specifics, but they are willing to try. Let them help.

Today I am speaking on behalf of my Survivor Sisters & myself… I'm just trying to give each participant, each person who contributed (whether financially, in prayer, or through kind words), a great big hug & a thank you. I never imagined my Team Sweet Potatas would raise 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents (not in my wildest dreams). I know your donations were a sacrifice, a choice, a gift of love. I feel as though you have all wrapped your arms around me & shouted a great big "I love you!" Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

With sincerity & love,


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We all have troubles.

Seems like it's been awhile since I've blogged. I think it's because I'm sleeping better at night. Many of my blogs were written during the late night/early morning hours of sleeplessness. I am so thankful to be sleeping, but I do miss blogging. Some of you are probably relieved. Lol. I cannot credit anything other than Xanax for my sleep. I'm sorry I had to resort to sleep medication, but the accumulation of sleeplessness was causing my body great fatigue.

So I've been doing a lot of self evaluation lately… I don't like to dwell on self, but at the same time, how do we fine tune ourselves if we don't consider how to help ourselves? As you know, I've had lots of physical therapy, & I am sure that has contributed to some of my self-evaluation. I'll be honest, some of the physical therapy has been life changing for me, & some of it has just served to help me better understand my issues. Some things won't get better, so it will be up to me to deal with my troubles with a thankful attitude. Understanding them certainly helps. I believe living with them allows God to refine my heart if I let Him.

Whatever my troubles (which we all have troubles), I try to see them as opportunities to grow me as a person, deepen my faith, allow me to empathize with others, & the blessings continue. If I could go back 4 years in my life, there are some hardships I would ask to be spared & some I would say, it's okay…the treasures are worth the journey. Kinda weird, isn't it?

I find that the things in life that hurt relationships with people are the things I would ask to be spared. Fixing a broken relationship takes more work for me than all of my therapy put together. Being hurt by another person takes so much healing. Hurting another person causes so much guilt & sadness too. Sometimes, we are not even aware of the hurts we cause. Forgiveness is essential but so difficult because memories cannot be forgotten. If we could erase them, forgiveness would be so much easier! Still…we are called to forgive.

So as I walk through the last 4 years of my life, cause that is truly when a downhill spiral of hardships began, I kind of have a pecking order of my difficulties. Emotional pain from others & myself, I would like to erase & have a do over. I would like to walk through life without conflict with other souls. I have learned to always remember, God loves both individuals (one just as much as the other) when relationship turmoil takes hold.

As for my house being blown away, I mourn for Washington & its people. As for myself, I regret the stress it's put on my husband. Watching him agonize is painful. As for me, I have a few losses (like my mother's diary), I would reclaim if I could. But most of my losses from that vicious storm were only temporary, even before the winds blew. The storm just proved it. As we move forward, my blessings overflow. Holes left from material losses have been filled with far greater treasures like my 2 precious grandchildren.

As for my health… well. I have struggles; but my joy far outweighs any health problems. I don't know if that will always be the case. I sure hope so. If given a choice to remove breast cancer from my life's journey, here's the sobering (& weird) truth. I would remove it because of the suffering it has caused my family. I would remove it for the cloud it has put over our heads. However, I am a better person because of it, no doubt. I love my faith, & I love liven' right. That means right in the palm of God's hand. It's a daily, sometimes hourly, discipline to place myself in His hand, but life is so much better there. My false securities have been pulled out from under me. I know how fragile I am. I wouldn't trade this relationship for anything or anyone.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Just a big ol' bag of worries...

Tonight is a special night. It's a night to remember. It's a meaningful night. It's Pray for The Cure. When I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, there were so many uncertainties, & really, there still are. For some reason, I was denied a PET scan by our insurance. The hospital refused to let us pay for it out of our own pocket or with the help of friends & family. Nope, no PET scan for me.

Here's the truth. We didn't have time to fight it. My cancer was so aggressive, treatment began a week after my diagnosis. That would be chemo therapy, followed by radical surgery, & finally radiation which left me looking like I had been grilled. Needless to say, I have spent the last almost 3 years processing all of this. Since I was denied a PET scan, I never got an accurate diagnosis.

What I soon began to realize is this: an accurate diagnosis would have been too much for me to handle at that time in my life. About 6 mosnth down the road, my radiologist told me that statistically speaking, my case was probably much worse than I knew. Why? No PET scan. It was likely in more than 1 lymph node, but because I had my chemo before surgery, we will never know.

Unbeknownst to this kind man, I left his office that day in tears. Wow! It was as if I had been diagnosed for the first time. I had a lump in my throat so big, I couldn't speak. I had to reckon with the fact that it was worse than I knew, & I would never know how bad it was. So what is my prognosis? I really don't know.

As my mind began to settle, I began to realize that it was okay. It was okay if I never knew my reality because I rest in the mighty palm of God's hand. Yesterday is as close as tomorrow for Him. He has numbered my days, & only He knows that number. He is not caught off guard by any of this. I was. God is bigger than my unknown lymph node count. He is bigger than my unknown prognosis. He is bigger than all of my issues & worries combined & multiplied to infinity.

I rest in Him. He never forsakes me, & He takes time to whisper sweet words in my ear with His Still Small Voice. Without Him, I am nothing, just a big ol' bag of worries. With Him, I live joyfully & gratefully every day of my life. Without Him, I cannot breathe. He gives, & He takes away. I surrender all. Pray for The Cure is sacred. We survivors put our prayers together & acknowledge that He is in control.

What does that mean? Whatever our circumstances, He has our backs. We may not receive the news for which we hoped, but He is not surprised by any news we receive. "God makes everything beautiful in its time." His time may not be my time. His idea of beauty certainly can be different than mine. Although, I know we both love flowers, oceans, &  baby blue eyes. However, what I think (& this is just my opinion) is this...

I think what God loves most is a soft heart that trusts in Him when it is scared. He loves a heart that puts its faith in Him in spite of the unknowns. He loves when we know that He is bigger than our trials. He loves when we rest in Him. I rest only in Him.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I must stop here.

Just today, 2 of my dearest friends asked me what I would like for my birthday (which was a week or so ago, but that's okay cause that's how friends do it). I thought a little bit, & I could only come up with 1 thought. Really, they don't need to get me a thing. I have plenty, & their friendship is more than I could ever imagine. Like I said, they are 2 of my dearest friends.

I ran into one of them, & the other called me. Both wanting to know my birthday wish. So here it goes… I know those who read my blog are probably tiring of hearing about my life & the effects of my various health issues. Please know I never share for sympathy, mainly just for the sake of helping others in a similar boat.

I mustered up the courage to tell them both the truth. The one thing that would mean the most to me is if they would take the money they would spend on a gift & donate it to my team, Sweet Potatas. When I was at the Komen Affilliate the other day, I stepped into the restroom, only to see the photo which is now my backdrop on Facebook.

It shows eight or nine little ballerinas, & the caption says, "One will get breast cancer." I looked at that photo, & a lump welled up in my throat. My eyes filled with tears. I guess the thought was just too sobering for me at that particular moment. I know I beat a dead horse begging people to give to my cause. I'm surprised people continue to read my blog & be my friend on facebook. I'm sure they all tire of my cause.

But, the truth remains, if people give to my cause, they may one day be saving my life or more importantly my daughters' lives. They may be saving their own life & not even know it. I had no history & no warning. I had a clean mammogram 7 months prior to my diagnosis. Suddenly, I had a lump. Suddenly, I began a journey that would change me in every facet of my life. I don't regret this journey. I don't wish it never happened to me. But, at the same time, I simply cannot bear to think of it attacking my daughters or anyone else I love. I cannot even articulate my thoughts, because it is too painful, so I must stop here. Just know that my cause isn't my cause, it's for the love & lives of those I love, & perhaps the ones you love. Thanks for putting up with me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My life once again would change...

On January 20th, 2014, my life once again would change. That day was just the beginning. I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Back in the Fall (before the tornado took my house), a very kind woman made a home visit. She brought with her a lymphedema pump. Her purpose was to fit me & train me. She asked me if I would be interested in the Pink Pumpers Program at IPMR (Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation).

I asked a few questions & decided it was worth a try. It is a strength training program designed for women who are Breast Cancer Survivors. It is especially good if you have lymphedema because they help you prevent hurting yourself. I had caused my lymphedema to spread into my shoulder & chest because I overdid it swimming. This was not the first time I caused my own problems. I was having trouble navigating exercise without making my problems worse.

What I didn't realize was that I would be evaluated by a STAR (Suvivorship Training & Rehabilitation) staff member who would then offer me all kinds of help. Yes, I had to get a few referrals from the get- go, but my doctor was very willing to help me. Insurance covers most of it. I work hard. It's become my second home. But… the benefits are worth everything.

When you become a Cancer Survivor, you have no idea what that means. My guess is it's probably as different for each Survivor as is their diagnosis, their treatment, & their prognosis. My Breast Cancer journey began on a Sunday evening, August 14, 2011 with the discovery of a lump. As my journey approaches 3 years, I find myself somewhat of a different person.

I have short hair now. More of my friends have cancer then don't. I have physically changed. I've had a double mastectomy. A day doesn't go by that I don't physically experience this difference. Things just aren't the same. I have developed lymphedema in my left arm. I have chemo brain which causes me memory problems. I have neuropathy which daily takes its toll. I have anxiety & sleep issues. Sometimes I am afraid, & I wonder what happened to the old me. Some of my relationships have been impacted. Pain comes & goes. My faith has deepened. I no longer live with false security.

As the STAR team member evaluated me, she cared about things no one else seemed to understand. There was help through this program for every facet of my life. I have had balance therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, nutritional counseling, & help with personal issues. I've had to articulate my problems which takes humility, but in so doing, at last I've found help. Help for me ='s Hope. Help for me ='s Understanding. Help for me is a Comfort.

This blog is written for other Cancer Survivors. Help is a few phone calls away. The STAR Team is compassionate & respectful. Nothing is ever forced on you. Nothing is ever pulled out of you. The staff is caring & gentle. They are knowledgeable, professional, & helpful. They keep your confidence. A common thread of kindness exists among each person at IPMR. They care about you, & they simply want to improve the quality of your life. On January 20th, I hit the jackpot (in the nick of time)!